Porterfield awaits a 'good test' against India

Ireland's seasoned campaigner, William Porterfield, has made it clear that the team’s target will be to try and win both the T20 fixtures against a star-studded Indian side.

William Porterfield, who has seen Ireland cricket come a long way, feels that it would be good for young Irish cricketers if they get to meet M.S. Dhoni and Virat Kohli.   -  Getty Images

The last time India toured Ireland in 2007, the host nation was just another associate member waiting for its moment of glory in international cricket.

A decade later, when the two teams meet for a two-match T20I series at the Malahide, starting on Wednesday, Ireland — now a Test playing nation — will be hoping to come good.

In an exclusive conversation with Sportstar, from Dublin, on Tuesday afternoon, William Porterfield — Ireland’s seasoned campaigner and the captain of the Test team — too, made it clear that the team’s target will be to try and win both the games against a star-studded Indian side.

READ: Virat Kohli, Team India look to improve T20I rankings

Excerpts…

What are you expecting from the two-match T20 series against India?

It is a pretty good occasion. We get to play in front of the home crowd, so it is going to be a special couple of days as we would also test ourselves. In terms of T20 cricket, India is right up there in rankings, so it will be a good test for ourselves, to see where we are and where we need to go with our game. Everyone knows that in the game of cricket, anything can happen, so we are preparing to try and win these games. It will be a very good test.

The last time Ireland played India at home was in 2007. A decade later, what does this series mean for Ireland cricket?

The biggest difference between now and back then is that now, there is a lot more media coverage, a lot of people are coming to watch us play and there is a sell-out crowd. This shows cricket’s progress in Ireland. That will be the chance to show where we have come, not on the pitch, but off the pitch as well, as to where the organisation has gone to and where Irish cricket has gone to.

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Now that Ireland has attained a Test status, do you think that top teams like India should play your team more so that you people can improve further?

Yes, it is great that India is here. The two-game series is great. I think that the way forward is to play everyone. I am not saying that (there should be) a five-game series against India, but we just need to play as much cricket as we can against them. The two-match series will be great for Irish cricket, it will get a lot of youngsters to the game and after that, we should play more and more cricket against anyone.

Ireland is known for its surprises. What are your strategies for the two-match series?

As I mentioned before, we are playing against a very good side. They are one of the best, if not the best in the world in T20 cricket, at the moment. So, we have to back our game and back our skills. That’s all we can ask for from the players to the best of their abilities and walk off the field, letting the result take care of itself. That’s how it goes. It is an easy thing to say, but not easy to do that and you can’t get caught up in the moment. We have to play with freedom and trust our game. That’s all we can ask for and let the result take care of itself from there.

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From being an associate nation to a Test-playing country, Ireland has come a long way. Do you think that people’s perception has changed for Ireland cricket?

The things (perspective) have changed over the last few years and the performances in the World Cups have been the main thing. That was a chance for years to show what we have got. The full membership has given us opportunities to play games more frequently, it gives large exposure to higher level cricket, so there will be competitive cricketers. If we can make ourselves sustainable, then we can get better. That’s what we need.

But then, Ireland won’t play the World Cup next year. How much of a loss is that for the team?

It is a personal opinion. I feel there should be more teams in the World Cup. It happens in four years. It’s a six-week tournament, so it is not a big ask to expand the game. We would not be where we are had we not got that opportunity. Hopefully, in 15-20 years time, we will be a bigger cricketing nation than where we are now. It should not be a closed shop. The World Cup is a great area, where the teams evolve and it helps in growing the game globally.

Your team has many players who have never got a chance to meet Mahendra Singh Dhoni or Virat Kohli. So, in the next four days, will you guys be planning to meet the Indian cricketers and discuss the game?

If the opportunity arises and if there’s any cricketer you come across! We will try and win the games, and after the games, if the opportunity arises, it will be great for some of the younger lads to go and meet them. Dhoni has been around the circuit and has played at the highest level for years. Kohli has not been that long, but he is one of the greatest players. That will be a good opportunity for youngsters to speak to them and see how they have done it at such a young age, and how they have dealt with him. Obviously, in India, the expectations are higher than anywhere else. To get an insight from them and speaking to them will be a great experience for the youngsters.